Here is the talk that was given in sacrament meeting for those of you that missed the meeting. It was well received and enjoyed by those in attendance.
Good morning brothers, sisters, friends, and family. As many of you know, today is my farewell. I got my call clear back in February, on the 29th. When I opened the call and read the words “You have been called to the Peru Lima East mission,” I admit that I was kinda shocked. However, my grandmother was jumping for joy while running around the lobby area down at the BYU dorms. And now, after 19 long years, I am finally ready and able to serve my Father and Savior by bringing forth the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that haven’t had the chance to hear and accept the gospel.
I’ve been told that the best talks start with a joke, as it enables you to connect with me before I even get to the good stuff. Since the Bishop isn’t in attendance and since it goes with my topic today, I’ll share this one:
One day the bishop, on his way home from a bishopric meeting, accidentally runs over the favorite cat of an old widow in the ward. He knocks on the door to apologize and offer his services as bishop and fellow neighbor. The bishop says to the sister, “I am so sorry, but I just ran over your cat and killed it – but I would like to replace it.” The old woman replies, “If you say so, but I hope you are good at catching mice!!”
If the subject of the joke wasn’t clear to you, today I was asked to speak on running over cats of old widows and catching mice. Just kidding. I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of service. Service is such an expansive topic that I won’t have time to get to all of the details within that subject. So, to be more exact with my topic, I will focus on three areas: The Obligation, The Opportunities, and The Blessings of Service. However, instead of simply preaching about these things that I’m sure you all have experienced and know about, I will be tying these three topics into how I have prepared for my mission and how I can use this information to help me on my mission.
Obligation to serve is a topic less personal than the others, so I will outline what we know about our obligation to serve. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was always one to serve others. We have many recordings of miracles and services that he did during his mortal ministry. He even proclaimed “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). The Savior taught his disciples, as recorded in John 13, that “by [service] shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” We are asked by the Savior to give service to others and that this is how we show the rest of the world that we are disciples of Christ.
In one of Christ’s parables during his mortal ministry, He told us of His return to the earth in His glory as well as the separation of the righteous from the wicked. To the righteous people in this parable, He says “come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” However, the righteous are puzzled by this declaration and ask “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” Christ then answers “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We serve others to serve our Lord.
Alma taught us that those that take upon the covenant of baptism take upon themselves the name of Christ. Our desire to come into the fold of God includes the will to give meaningful service to others. We are told that we must “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light,” to “mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” to be numbered among those of God. By making the covenant of baptism, we promise to help those that are in need as much as we can.
Knowing that we have an obligation to serve really helped me make the decision to serve a mission. I feel guilty that I haven’t had the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that don’t know of it like I do. Being able to serve a mission has given me some comfort in that regard. It helps me know that I am helping others come unto Christ, to be numbered among his people and get closer to receiving eternal life and salvation.
Christ and prophets throughout the scriptures and our modern day list and explain many different things we can do that can give us opportunities to serve one another as well as many of the blessings that we can receive from doing service. However, I’m sure that most all of you know many ways to serve others, as evident by your constant examples. Immediate blessings from service are also mostly personal and often varied. Rather than simply list things that we can do to serve as well as blessings that we can receive, I’ll share some of my personal experiences with serving others and tie it into preparing for my mission.
The first experience that I would like to share with you comes from a place that I was not expecting to receive or give any service. This place is the BYU marching band. Last Fall, I auditioned and was made a member of the BYU drumline as one of the snare drummers on the drumline, a section of the band. The summer before I had any contact with anyone from the band other than the instructors and my section leader, I expected this experience to be just like the one I had in High School, but then everything changed when the drumline sectional began the weekend before band camp. I couldn’t believe how kind everyone was there, even though they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. Each section quickly bonded that Saturday into one of the most connected and friendly circles that I have ever had the opportunity to be in. However great the bond we developed that day, something greater happened the next day: a fireside for all of the freshmen that were going into the band. The testimonies, thoughts, and songs were so powerful that I knew that the BYU marching band was the group that I needed to be in. We were told that night that the BYU marching band isn’t just about being an awesome group of musicians that play at every home football game. We represented the school and our main purpose was to serve others through our music. In that meeting, I witnessed people serving those in the audience by helping the new members feel included, loved, and excited.
However, things continued to get even more powerful at the end of band camp that week. I had made many new friends in the drumline and band, I felt accepted by everyone, the music was progressing, and we were constantly improving our talents and fellowship. None of that could prepare me for what happened before the freshman welcome celebration, or whatever that event was called, that the band was to perform at. The drumline went out for one of our sectionals, meaning that we were going to practice alone, rather than with the band. During that time, we put down our drums, and snuck into the back storeroom of one of the concession stands at the LaVell Edwards stadium. You see, the marching band hall is located in the stadium. Anyway, while we were there, we circled up and had a testimony meeting. In this meeting, all but 2 or 3 of our 25 member drumline shared their testimonies and thoughts. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I could feel the spirit so strongly at a drumline rehearsal. These people had served me through their testimonies, and I assume that I had done so to them as well.
As the season went on, there were many instances where I could feel the spirit. We started each rehearsal with a prayer. The drumline started separately from the band, so it was always a treat to have a small group prayer with the drumline. We had a noble tradition going where the person saying the prayer would pray in their mission language, if they were returned missionaries. We also had some times where stories were shared of these returned missionaries’ adventures on the two years of their service. There were many laughs shared with these experiences, as well as many touching moments. However, nothing, even the previous experiences that had already happened that season, could have prepared me for our “pass and review” concert. There was nothing really special about that concert, other than our large and loud band was crammed into a small theatre for a few hours. During that time, while we were playing some sick beats, we suddenly felt the spirit while we were playing. It was the strangest thing to me: how could we possibly feel the spirit while we played? I soon remembered the words of our instructor from our fireside: we were there to serve others and stand as a symbol of the church and the school. There were many people in the audience, and we were able to share our passion for music in a way that I didn’t know could be possible with marching music. At several other performances, we had similar experiences, especially at the last football game that the entire band performed at. The season finished weeks after that concert, and many of us went our separate ways. I am the last freshman guy from that drumline to leave on a mission. Playing on the BYU drumline was one of the greatest and most spiritual experiences that I’ve ever had, even though I never expected it.
Another experience that comes to mind are all of the opportunities that I had to help my granddad in the years before he passed. Every single week I, or my sister and I, would take my granddad to go grocery shopping and to run several other areas. I have many fond memories of taking him to the grocery store to get what he needed. Through this service, I was able to work on some of my personal weaknesses, such as patience. When I first started taking him, I would often get annoyed at how long he was taking to select the kind of salad that he wanted from the Peterson’s deli. I’d even run and get some of his other regular things, like milk, bread, yogurt, and juice, as I waited. As months rolled by, I learned to be patient and simply enjoy the time that I was able to have with him. Sure my grandad had his quirks and funny moments, but I loved every minute that I had with him. This example easily illustrates one of the most profound examples that has helped me prepare for my mission. I have learned that as we serve, we can come to further our personal development and begin to perfect some of our many imperfections. This truth is one that I can teach those that I will be serving, as well as keeping this in mind as I serve people throughout my entire life.
Another example of service that I was fortunate to participate in happened in my BYU singles ward as a home teacher and friend. One night towards the middle of Fall semester, shortly after I finished my homework earlier than usual, there was a knock at my door. It was my Elder’s quorum president with my home teaching companion. I must have missed my phone, as I knew they had my number, but there they were anyway. They had informed me that one of the girls that I home taught was feeling extremely ill. She had uncontrollable chills, a headache, and was feeling completely awful. I was asked to go with them to her room to give her a healing blessing. I gladly complied, and was very grateful that I finished my homework so early. The time that this all unravelled was about 11:30 PM. Now, before you ask yourself how getting my homework done before 11:30 is early, just know that I would have done it in the morning instead. Getting it done that night helped me keep my mind off of it as I went to give this blessing. Anyway, I got my white shirt and tie on as fast as I could and we headed toward her dorm room. As we walked over there, there was this profound silence for at least most of the way. I was really concentrating on what exactly I was going to say, along with a few prayers to my Father in Heaven to help me know exactly what she needed to hear and be blessed with. I arrived with a semi-prepared outline that I worked on the whole way. I was going to just say the important things. However, as soon as I went in to give the blessing, I was overcome with the Spirit. I couldn’t remember anything that I wanted to say as I began the blessing. I don’t remember much of what was said, but I knew that I was guided by the Spirit to give her the blessing that she needed for what she was going through both physically and emotionally. This experience really taught me that if my mind and heart are in the right place, and if I’m willing to feel let the Lord take control, amazing things can happen. The next morning, I asked her if she was doing fine, as a good home teacher should, and she replied that she was feeling significantly better and confided in me that it had been a hard few weeks and that she was feeling better about the things she was going through. I know that the Lord has a plan and that if I listen, serve, and act, I will be blessed, and those around me will be blessed.
I know that I have been called to serve in Peru. While I’m not excited to leave the life and family I have here behind, I am excited for a new adventure. Our Bishop taught me, personally, that a mission is like a tithe on my life. I’m giving him 2 years of my almost 20 year life to serve Him at all times. I can’t wait for the experiences that I’m about to have and I can’t wait to serve my God and King. I know that this Gospel is true. I wouldn’t be going on my mission if I wasn’t sure that it was complete truth. My life is in the Lord’s hands and I can’t wait to see where he leads me.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.